In recent years, skill gaming activities like esports and fantasy sports have been thriving in India. The sector has experienced tremendous growth in the last 1 to 2 years. This is largely fueled by the increasing internet penetration in India and the growing interest of Indians in skill-based games.
According to a KPMG report realized earlier in 2022, over 420 million people play online games in India. The report also predicted that the esports market will increase up to 5x soon.
Even right now, the online skill gaming market is already contributing to government revenue. It is driving innovation and wealth creation in India by attracting investments to the startup ecosystem. According to data from industry research, the online skill gaming market is currently valued at INR 150,000 cr. Ernst & Young further predict that this figure will grow to INR11 billion by 2025.
However, one major factor that still stifles the growth of the sector is the lack of proper regulation. Due to the lack of policies to guide, the sector has been quite shaky in terms of revenue generation in India, unlike other countries like the UK that has strict gaming policies and regulatory authorities.
As a matter of fact, skill gaming is still sometimes equated to online gambling in some areas, which is why it is been frowned upon by many. However, onlinecasinoguide.in has pointed out the legal loophole that does not outlaw gambling. It doesn’t matter if it’s skill games or games of chance, as long as they’re played online on offshore websites, it’s completely okay for anyone to play them.
The only Indian central gambling law is the Public Gambling Act of 1867 which came into place before the existence of online betting websites, or even the internet for that matter. Each state has been left with the responsibility to regulate gambling in its jurisdiction. Yet, only Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have done so recently.
Online Skill Gaming Sectors and The Push for Regulation
Industry experts and High courts across the nation have begun to point out the inadequacies of the laws and urge the government to develop regulatory standards.
The esports segment has been more vocal among online skill gaming businesses, asking for an explicit confirmation of the legality of their service. Associations such as the All India Gaming Federation (AIGF), Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS), and eSports League (ESL) companies are emphasizing that games of skill are legal.
Yet, experts are astonished at how the government misses out on tax income and license revenues that could be generated from regulation, hindering the growth of skill gaming companies at the same time. While developing regulatory standards will encourage responsible gaming, the potential for tax income and job creation alone should be enough to convince authorities to fill the void.
Already, states that have banned skill gaming activities have completely stifled local businesses while not being able to stop citizens from accessing licensed offshore online gaming platforms. Some states like Maharashtra are currently looking to make the whole sector legal. The Karnataka and Kerala governments have been encouraged by courts to pursue contemporary regulations.
Recently, a virtual sports regulation bill was proposed in Rajasthan. The bill was designed specifically to regulate fantasy games in the state. After the draft was released for public consultation, bodies like the Skill Games Council of India and E-Gaming Federation (EGF) have spoken out, asking the government to make the draft inclusive by adding regulations for all other skill games and not just Fantasy.
What’s the Way Forward?
Clearly, the only way to make progress in the sector is by introducing regulations. The benefits of this are enormous.
The sector already employs thousands of people through a network of service providers and developers. These include an unofficial network of private digital channels, apps, and websites that provide tips, research, and support to digital gamers.
The skill gaming industry is also helping to create more talents in fast-growing areas like machine learning, animation, cloud, and artificial intelligence. It’s quite easy to predict that the thriving sector would make India a global giant in the coming years.
Disclaimer : Above mentioned article is a Consumer connect initiative, This article is a paid publication and does not have journalistic/editorial involvement of IDPL, and IDPL claims no responsibility whatsoever.